The need for greater awareness and support of mental health and wellness in the African American community remains an ongoing and intentional effort.
Prompted by his own personal experiences with mental illness, Calvin G. Seino, better known as DJ Tryfe, decided to turn his 30th birthday celebration into the Viribus Ball to raise money and awareness.
“I used to struggle with mental illness, so I always felt if I made it to 30 that I would focus on reaching back as I move forward,” said the sought-after DJ who has rocked parties for everyone from Venus and Serena Williams to Megan Thee Stallion.
The soirée was hosted by Candiace Dillard Bassett from “The Real Housewives of Potomac,” for whom Tryfe has deejayed on the show. It took place at the Highland Theatre in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Jan. 19, 2020.
“I spoke to so many of our guests who thanked us for bringing the Viribus Ball to fruition. So many of them shared with me their struggles with anxiety or depression,” Dillard Bassett said. “I met Black therapists who shared the statistic that only 3 percent of our country’s mental health professionals are Black. It was overwhelming in the best way.”
Proceeds from the donations will go to the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which was started by Tryfe’s fellow Howard University alum, actress Taraji P. Henson to help those like her late father, who struggled with mental illness.
Choosing Viribus, a Latin word meaning strength, as the name of the ball, DJ Tryfe hopes to deliver that to others. The popular DJ, known for his fun affairs throughout the DMV region, found the help he needed while working as a resident advisor at his alma mater.
When his supervisor discovered that he battled depression and struggled with suicidal thoughts, he didn’t fire him. Instead, he made a deal with him that he could keep his job only if he went to counseling. Today, DJ Tryfe credits that for saving his life and giving him the respect he currently has for seeking professional help.
“When I started going through my issues, I was scared to go get help or to get on meds or even tell my parents. My parents are preachers, so they wanted to just pray for you,” he shared.
Guests donned attire with sequins, velvet, feathers and fur at the MET Gala-inspired event, as they partied for a purpose with the birthday guy.
“The Viribus Ball felt like a dream. I was very anxious about how the party would turn out but the event surpassed my expectations,” he said. “The most rewarding part was speaking to so many people who share my struggle. For once, I didn’t feel alone.”
Organizers are still tallying the final donation amount.
Check out the photo gallery above to see the fashions and fun at the Viribus Ball.